300 posts

Spider web on barbed wire fence.   Scanned and cropped from a negative by Hugh Morton.

Spider web on barbed wire fence. Scanned and cropped from a 4×5-inch negative by Hugh Morton.

Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World Wide Web (not the Internet—that’s twenty years older!)  The Web has grown from static webpages to the interactive “Web 2.0,” without which it would have been impossible to create A View to Hugh.  Now talk abounds about what “Web 3.0″ might become and yet I can still remember buying (I may even still have it!) my first guide to using Mosaic!  “Huh?” you may be asking.  Well, NSCA Mosaic was the Web browser that was the precursor to Netscape that was the precursor to Firefox.  (If you want to learn more about Mosaic, click on the hyperlink—that once magic and now routine function of the Web for Wikipedia’s version of that browser’s history.)

What better day than today, then, to publish the 300th blog post here at A View to Hugh.  Since beginning on November 1st, 2007, we have tried over the past six-plus years to create our own magic on the World Wide Web through the photographs of Hugh Morton—from the raw first days of processing the sizable and unruly collection; through the evolving finding aid for the 250,000-item collection of motion picture films and photographic prints, negatives, and slides; to the development of the digital collection of 8,000 online images; and, most recently, to the polished first retrospective exhibit of Hugh Morton’s work that debuted at Appalachian State’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

This scene comes from a group of negatives labeled "Road (Linville-Boone)."  The road sign on the left reads "PINE RUN RD" however, and the only road name matching that description (when searching Google Earth) runs between US 421 and Ridge Road  east of Boone.  Can anyone identify the location?

This scene comes from a group of negatives labeled “Road (Linville-Boone).” The road sign for the road on the left before the barn reads “PINE RUN RD”  and the only road name matching that description (when searching Google Earth) runs between US 421 and Ridge Road east of Boone. Can anyone identify the location?

So what lies ahead?

Two weeks from tomorrow, Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective will open for its second showing, this time at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowhee, North Carolina.  There will be an opening reception at 7:00 P.M.—you can “join” or “like” the event at the Mountain Heritage Center’s Facebook page for the event.  That evening I will be giving a presentation titled, “Hugh Morton’s Rise to His Photographic Peak.”  Earlier in the day I will be meeting with a class to talk about curating the exhibit.

And after that?

There’s a third venue set for the exhibit: this time in the eastern part of the state later this year.  Beyond that we are looking for other venues for 2015.

Anything else?

That’s a question I would like to pose to you.  Are there any subjects we haven’t touched on that you would like us to explore?  Any topics that you would like to address?  If so, please leave a comment.  Now that the World Wide Web is several years into its interactive phase I’d love to have a conversation about it.  Or, if you prefer, feel free to contact me using the CONTACT link above.

From Richmond to Chapel Hill . . . from Charlotte to the Moon

February 20, 1962 was an important day in United States space history.  On that day, US Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.  On that same date thirty-six years earlierFebruary 20, 1926an unsung hero of the United States space program was born in Richmond, Virginia.

On this February 20th, Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of that hero: Julian Scheer, who would have turned 88 today.

Julian Scheer posed next to Scheer Bluff sign

Julian Scheer posed next to the Scheer Bluff sign on Grandfather Mountain, date unknown.  This scan of a portrait by Hugh Morton comes from a machine-made print in the Morton collection.  The processing code on the back of the print includes the date 5 September 2001, just four days after Scheer’s death.)

The TV picture was slightly out of focus.  It was black-and-white and the camera was tilted a little. By 2014’s standards of high tech, high definition television, it would likely be branded “NBQ”—not broadcast quality.  Despite all of that, more than 700 million people around the world watched as US Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon.

And we almost didn’t get to see it.

In the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chain of command during the lead up to the launch of Apollo 11, the first trip to land a man on the surface of the moon, one man stood firm with his commitment that a TV camera would be part of the lunar luggage: Julian W. Scheer from Richmond, Virginia, a UNC Tar Heel, and a friend of Hugh Morton and family.

At age 17, Scheer joined the merchant marine and later served in the Naval Reserve. Following that World War II service, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1950 with a degree in journalism and communications.  He then became UNC Sports Information Director Jake Wade’s assistant, a position he held for three years, before joining The Charlotte News in 1953.  (In 1956 another UNC Tar Heel joined the staff at The Charlotte News.  His name: Charles Kuralt.)

Julian Scheer wading through debris after Hurricane Hazel (1954)During his early days in Charlotte, Scheer covered sports and news stories.  In 1954 he went to the North Carolina coast, along with a group of other North Carolina reporters, to cover Hurricane Hazel.  Also in that group was photographer Hugh Morton who, near the peak of the storm, took a picture of Scheer struggling against the rising water.  The picture earned Morton a prestigious award.  In the 1996 booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described the circumstances on October 15, 1954:

Hazel was a very stormy thing.  And when it came ashore at Carolina Beach, Julian Scheer and I were covering it for The Charlotte News.  I asked Julian to walk through my picture, and the photo won first prize for spot news in the Southern Press Photographer of the Year competition.

That photograph is also on the front cover of the first edition of Jay Barnes’ 1995 book, North Carolina’s Hurricane History.

In 1956 Scheer received an invitation from an old college friend.  Nelson Benton, who first worked at Charlotte radio station WSOC following his UNC graduation in 1949 and then joined WBTV Channel 3 News (also in Charlotte), asked Scheer if he would like to join a group that was going to visit Cape Canaveral, Florida.  At that time, there was an Air Force base there and a few rockets had been tested, but very little news had come from the Cape. Scheer made the trip and was fascinated with what he saw and asked his editor at the “News” about a story of what was going on there. The editor didn’t show much interest, so Julian returned on his own time with his own money and did a series of stories.

As the space race heated up and with the creation of NASA in 1958, more and more stories turned up in the papers and on TV.  In 1959 Scheer wrote a book, along with NASA engineer Theodore Gordon titled First into Outer Space. The book was a best seller, but Scheer said the Pentagon took out some important content.  (This was Julian Scheer’s third book.  He teamed with Hugh Morton and Bob Quincy in 1958 for the Charlie Justice biography, “Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.”  That book was published by Orville Campbell in Chapel Hill.  Also in ’58 he wrote Tweetsie, the Blue Ridge Stemwinder.)

Before he completed chapter one of his novel, he got a call from NASA administrator James Webb wanting him to come to Washington.  Webb was very familiar with Scheer’s reporting on the US space program and wanted to hire him as his public affairs assistant.   “We need your help,” said Webb. “I want you to write a plan for coordinating media coverage of the missions,” he added.

Scheer spent the next thirty days back in Charlotte formulating a grand plan that would shape the structure and policies of NASA into a team approach and would be responsible for getting the astronauts out of their flight suits and into the public consciousness.  Scheer never lost sight of the importance of the fact that media includes both broadcast and print.

He sent the plan to Webb and was soon called back to Washington.  When he walked in the door, Webb said, “I accept your offer to go to work for me.”  Both men laughed, before Scheer finally said yes.  “I want you to run this program just as you’ve outlined it.  You’ll work directly for me,” said Webb.

Julian Scheer outside NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 1965.

Julian Scheer outside NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 1965. (This is a slightly different pose than the image in online collection. Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Scheer arrived back at Cape Canaveral just in time for the final mission of Project Mercury, astronaut Gordon Cooper’s two-day stay in orbit in May 1963.  Cooper would be the final US astronaut to go into space alone, because Project Gemini was next and would consist of ten successful two-man flights starting in March 1965 and continuing until November 1966.  Project Apollo and the moon would be next.

On Friday, January 27, 1967 the Apollo One crew, consisting of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, was training at the Cape for the first Apollo launch when tragedy struck.  A spark ignited a fire in the spacecraft, killing all three astronauts.  Scheer was faced with a media crisis.  To his credit, he withheld information until all the families involved were properly notified.

Twenty-one months would pass before Apollo would actually fly.  On October 11, 1968 US Astronaut Wally Schirra checked out a new system in Apollo 7.  The US space program was back on track and headed for the moon.  Apollo 8 flew around the moon on Christmas Eve 1968.  Who could forget Commander Frank Borman and crew reading from the Bible on that cold December night on live television?  In an interview after the Apollo program, Commander Borman would say, “the (Apollo) program was really a battle of the cold war and Julian Scheer was one of its generals.”

Apollo 9 in March of ‘69 and Apollo 10 in May were the dress rehearsals for the moon landing which would be next.

The blueprint for Apollo 11 has Julian Scheer’s fingerprints all over it.  He was responsible for naming the Apollo 11 command module “Columbia.”  He participated in discussions over whether the astronauts would place a US flag on the moon and he helped determine the wording on the lunar module plaque that reads in part, “We came in Peace for All Mankind.” But perhaps his biggest achievement was his fight with NASA engineers to get a television camera on board the lunar lander “Eagle.” Weight was a critical issue for “Eagle” and the engineers said a TV camera would just be extra weight.  Said Scheer, “You’re going to have to take something else off.  The camera is going to be on the spacecraft.”  And so it was.

Wednesday, July 16, 1969 began at 4 AM for about 150 CBS News personnel at Cape Canaveral. Preparations were underway for the launch of Apollo 11.  Two hours later, at 6 AM (EDT) came this:

“This is a CBS News Special Report, ‘Man on the Moon: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11.’”

It was the voice of CBS legendary announcer Harry Kramer in New York.  Anchors Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra were on the air three hours and thirty-two minutes before the launch at the cape. The countdown went well as about 3,500 news personnel watched from the Complex 39 press site at Cape Kennedy (now it’s the Kennedy Space Center).  Among them was Hugh Morton. (According to the Morton collection finding aid, however, only seven 35mm slides are extant.)

An estimated half million space watchers lined the surrounding Florida beach areas.
Then at 9:32 AM (EDT) the mighty Saturn V (five) rocket, powered by 7,500,000 pounds of thrust, carrying Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins began a slow climb to the moon.

As Cronkite watched on his TV monitor, he jubilantly cried out,

Oh boy, oh boy, it looks good Wally . . . What a moment! Man on the way to the moon!

Most of the CBS launch team then headed back to New York to get ready for the biggest show of all on Sunday, July 20, 1969.

As CBS signed on at 11:00 AM (EDT) on the 20th, the first voice we heard was that of Charles Kuralt, Julian Scheer’s co-worker at The Charlotte News in 1956:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Some five billion years ago, whirling and condensing in the darkness, was a cloud of inter-stellar hydrogen, four hundred degrees below zero, eight million miles from end to end.  This was our solar system waiting to be born.

Kuralt had recorded his essay days before because on this day he would fly across the United States, stopping along the way getting people’s thoughts on this historic day.  His program would be called A Day in the Life of the United States, and would air on September 8, 1970.

Then, Cronkite and Schirra and about 1,000 CBS News team members began a “32-hour day” live from Studio 41 in New York. Among those team members was Julian Scheer’s old college buddy Nelson Benton, who was stationed at Bethpage Long Island at the Grumman Corporation where a full scale model of the Lunar Module was set up. Benton worked with Engineer Scott MacLeod who had tested the module.

During the next five hours, Cronkite and Schirra were at the center of a media frenzy as they introduced feature segments, interviewed space experts, and tossed to CBS News Correspondents around the world.

At 4:08 PM (EDT) the astronauts were given a final “go” for the flight down to the surface of the moon. It took nine minutes and forty-two seconds. Then came Armstrong’s famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.” Cronkite sat speechless, glasses in hand, shaking his head from side to side.  Schirra wiped a tear from his eye.
In six hours, thirty-eight minutes, and thirty-eight seconds, a 38-year-old American astronaut from Wapakoneta, Ohio would set foot on the surface of the moon.

At 10:25 PM (EDT), Cronkite held up a copy of Monday’s New York Times with the banner headline “Men Land on the Moon.”  Never before had the Times printed a headline in such large type. Then came this exchange between Houston and Neil Armstrong:

Armstrong: “Okay Houston, I’m on the porch!”
Houston:  “Man, we’re getting a picture on the TV, we see you coming down the ladder now.”
Cronkite:  “Boy! Look at those pictures.”
Armstrong:  “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It was 10:56:20 PM (EDT) on Sunday, July 20, 1969.

Cronkite:  “Isn’t this something! 238,000 miles out there on the moon, and we’re seeing this.”
Schirra:  Oh, thank you television for letting us watch this one!”

Schirra could have said . . . perhaps should have said (in my opinion):  “Thank you Julian Scheer for letting us watch this one!”

Following the Apollo 11 crew’s return safely to earth on July 24, 1969 after eight days, three hours and eighteen minutes, Julian Scheer was awarded NASA’s highest recognition, the Distinguished Service Medal. He then led the crew in exploiting its public relations potential. He orchestrated and led round the world tours. In a 1999 USA Today article, Scheer said, “The Apollo mission was the chance to show off U.S. technological superiority. Clearly the Russians were going to the moon. We were head-to-head. We emphasized that.”

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, said, “He (Scheer) understood the needs of the media and also the needs of the flight crews. He was, in many cases, able to accommodate both.”

Following a successful Apollo 12 mission, Scheer was faced with another crisis during the flight of Apollo 13.  Two days into its flight an oxygen tank exploded crippling the service and command modules.  The lunar landing was cancelled, and for the next six days there was wall-to-wall media coverage until the crew landed safely on April 17, 1970.

When Apollo 14 launched on January 31, 1971, Hugh Morton along with wife Julia and daughter Catherine, were guests of Julian Scheer at the Cape. This mission saw astronaut Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, return to space and land on the moon.
As it turned out, Apollo 14 was Julian Scheer’s final flight at NASA. Two days after his 45th birthday, on February 22, 1971, he left NASA and would become campaign manager for Terry Sanford’s 1972 run for the presidency.  Scheer remained a consultant to the space program in Washington and was a trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Group portrait of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse committee members,  possibly outside the Carolina Club on the UNC campus. Left to right: Jim Heavner (CEO, The Village Companies of Chapel Hill and broadcaster); James G. (Jim) Babb (Executive VP, Jefferson Pilot Communications); Dr. William Friday (UNC President); unknown; unknown; Julian Scheer; and Hugh Morton.

Group portrait of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse committee members, possibly outside the Carolina Club on the UNC campus. Left to right: Jim Heavner (CEO, The Village Companies of Chapel Hill and broadcaster); James G. (Jim) Babb (Executive VP, Jefferson Pilot Communications); Dr. William Friday (UNC President); unknown; unknown; Julian Scheer; and Hugh Morton.

Julian Scheer and Hugh Morton crossed paths again in 1981 when Morton formed the “Save the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Committee,” in response to the growing concerns about the safety of the 129-year-old structure.  The committee read like a who’s who in North Carolina and brought together some of the best public relations/media minds in the world.  And of course Julian Scheer, with more experience with government agencies than anyone else Morton knew, topped the list.  The committee offered an alternative to moving the lighthouse as the US Corp of Engineers wanted to do. But Morton’s committee wasn’t able to keep the landmark in its seaside location.

On April 30, 1984, UNC’s great All-America legend Charlie Justice was the subject of a charity roast in Charlotte for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Scheer wasn’t able to attend the event in person, but he sent an audio tape poking fun at his dear friend. The audience loved it when Scheer said he and co-author Bob Quincy would have to answer “for all the lies we told” in that 1958 Charlie Justice biography.

In an interview in 2000, Julian Scheer said, “in my mind . . . I was always writing.  It never left me.  I always got a charge out of seeing my byline in the paper . . . .” Also that year Scheer wrote two children’s books, A Thanksgiving Turkey and Light of the Captured Moon.  He had previously written two other children’s books: Rain Makes Applesauce (1965) and Upside Down Day (1968).

The tragic news from Catlett, Virginia on Saturday, September 1, 2001 was that Julian Scheer had died in a tractor accident at his home.  He was 75-years-old.  The world will forever remember “the small step and giant leap” made by Neil Armstrong 238,000 miles away on Tranquility Base at 11:56:20 PM (EDT) on July 20, 1969; and the award-winning reporting by Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra to millions of viewers watching CBS-TV; but neither of these historic events would have captured the imagination of the world without that seven-pound TV camera and the strong will of Julian Weisel Scheer, a true unsung hero of Project Apollo and the American space program.

Frank Borman at Scheer Bluff, Grandfather Mountain

Frank Borman at Scheer Bluff, Grandfather Mountain. Scanned from a print that’s not included in the online collection (cropped by editor).

An Epilogue:
In the early 1960s Hugh Morton paid tribute to his dear friend Julian Scheer by naming a nice overlook at the 5,000 foot level at Grandfather Mountain, “Scheer Bluff.” The Scheer family would often visit Grandfather Mountain and in the early 1980s, to his surprise, Scheer received a photograph of astronaut Frank Borman standing at the “Scheer Bluff” sign.  Said Borman, “Julian, this is the first time I’ve called your bluff.  We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve always valued your advice . . . many years of happiness to a true friend.”

If you check the dictionary for the word “bluff,” you’ll find this definition among others:  “rough and blunt, but not unkind in manner.”

Correction: March 14, 2014:  An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the CBS announcer.  It is Harry Kramer, not Ted Cramer.  Kramer’s name is misspelled in a 1968 phone roster.

Today marks 93rd anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth

Hugh Morton as a boy, dressed in a jacket and tie, standing in front of an evergreen tree, probably in the Wilmington, NC area.

Hugh Morton as a boy, dressed in a jacket and tie, standing in front of an evergreen tree, probably in the Wilmington, NC area.

Today’s post is a simple one marking the 93rd anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth.  Happy birthday, Mr. Morton!

We here at A View to Hugh are infinitely grateful that you were an outstanding photographer whose photographic legacy lives on in Wilson Library as part of the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, aiding many with their research, personal enrichment, or enjoyment.

As a birthday gift to our readers, here’s a link to the online collection of more than 8,000 photographs from the Hugh Morton collection.  If you have a little time today, please wander inside and have a look around.

Final weeks for “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective”

Just wanted to float a reminder out there that the exhibit “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective” is entering its final two weeks at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University.

Are you going to be in the mountains for a bit of skiing this weekend, but the weather forecast calls for rain on Saturday?  Just looking for something to do in Boone?  Swing on over to the Turchin Center, view the fabulous photography by Hugh Morton, and stay dry!

Emmett Kelly, Jr. at the 1968 Azalea Festival Parade

Emmett Kelly, Jr. at the 1968 Azalea Festival Parade in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Perhaps the world’s most recognizable clown, Emmett Kelly, Jr. sprung into international fame soon after completing his four-year apprenticeship in 1964. Hired by Kodak as the attraction for its pavilion during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, the company employed Kelly as a touring Ambassador of Goodwill for the following four years. During that time period, Kelly was the most photographed clown in the world, including this one by Hugh Morton—a founder and organizer of the azalea festival.

Here are the gallery hours at the Turchin Center:

  • Tue: 10am – 6pm
  • Wed: 10am – 6pm
  • Thu: 10am – 6pm
  • Fri: 12noon – 8pm
  • Sat: 10am – 6pm

Can’t make it to Boone before the exhibit’s last day on January 25th?  Fear not!  We have two additional venues in the works for this year: one farther west this spring and another in the east during the late summer and autumn.  I’ll be posting more information as the details unfold.

Photographing the slopes

Skiers at Ctaloochee Ski Slopes

Skiers at Cataloochee Ski Slopes, February 22, 1964.

Winter has definitely descended upon North Carolina, so what better time than now to look at skiing photographs made by Hugh Morton.  In the Morton collection, most snow skiing photographs are grouped together as Series 6.6, but there are others filed by name of location in Series 1.

Cataloochee Ranch was the first facility to offer commercial skiing in North Carolina, which at the time was the highest and southernmost skiing resort in the eastern United States.  Cataloochee’s first skiers hit the slopes of Fie Top on Christmas Eve morning, Sunday December 24th, 1961.  On Christmas Day the Asheville Citizen carried a story (no byline) with a staff-photograph by Parris.  (Would this be the newspaper’s editor John Parris?)  Later in the season, The State published a short cover article by “Old Trudge” (a pen name used by Carl Goerch) in its March 3rd issue that began, “We hate to admit it, but we saw our first skiing recently.”

What brought Old Trudge to his reluctant observation?  Artificial snowmaking.

Snowmaking has its beginnings in the post-World-War-II Canadian airline industry, and its alpine skiing roots in 1950s New England resorts.  In his autobiography Mountain Fever, Cataloochee Ranch proprietor Tom Alexander wrote that he first had the idea for a ski slope at the resort in 1937—annotating the location of a “skin run” in the margin of a panoramic snapshot of the property.  Monitoring winter weather conditions, however, revealed that snowfall was too inconsistent to make a run of it.  Skiing at the resort was left to family members using homemade skis and golf clubs for ski poles.

Alexander came to learn of snowmaking technology by the late 1950s.  In 1959 and 1960 he and his wife twice traveled to New England ski resorts to see if the snow guns used by northern resorts would work in the southern Appalachians.  The Alexanders decided to “start small,” installing a rope tow at the base of Fie Top behind the ranch house, using a fishpond for water to make snow, and converting a cow barn into a ski lodge.  In keeping with the northeastern resorts, Cataloochee hired a European ski instructor, Karl Schoenschaller from Innsbruck, Austria.

Chronologically speaking, Cataloochees Ski Slopes’ opening date and instructor selection are interesting on two fronts: Squaw Valley, California hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics—only the second time in the United States, the first being Lake Placid, New York in 1928—and Innsbruck would host the 1964 winter games.  The Alexanders were apparently trying to catch the wave of excitement for skiing in the United States spurred by the Olympics.

According to the Asheville Citizen article, Cataloochee laid its first coating of snow on the evening of Thursday, December 22nd.  Three inches of natural snow fell on Friday night.  Then from Saturday night through dawn Sunday the snowmaking machines pumped out three feet of snow.  The ranch debuted its first run—1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide—that morning.  A 300-foot-long beginners slope opened by mid afternoon.  Word caught on quickly and 40 to 50 people skied that first day.  By March more than 200 people from the south and midwest would head to Haywood County to ski for a weekend.  At season’s end, the Alexanders “even showed a little profit.”  Perhaps more importantly to the Alexanders, they were able to extend the working season for their family members and staff, and help boost the local economy.

Cataloochee apparently hired Hugh Morton to photograph its ski activities and facilities two ski seasons later, because two images in the brochure “Ski Mile High Cataloochee in the Great Smokies” (see cover above) match black-and-white negatives in the Morton collection—including the photograph at the opening of this post. Given the time of year, it is likely that Cataloochee designed the brochure for the 1964-65 season.  What makes Morton’s photographs historically relevant is the decision by Cataloochee Ranch in 1968 to expand its entire ski operation “across the ridge” onto Moody Top to the north.  Morton’s 1964 photographs, therefore, portray the state’s first commercial ski operation before its significant upgrade just four years later.

In total there are twenty-three surviving black-and-white negatives from this assignment—fourteen labeled “Cataloochee Ski Slope (Use)” and nine labelled “Cataloochee Ski Slope (Reject)”—and two 4×5 color transparencies dated February 22, 1964.  As of this posting date, three of these images are available in the online collection.  (More may be added.)  Though not in the brochure, Alexander included the following Morton photograph in Mountain Fever.

Cataloochee Ski Slopes, February 22, 1964.

Cataloochee Ski Slopes, February 22, 1964.

There are also 35mm slides from this date in Slide Lot 009292, listed by location under Cataloochee in the finding aid—and this would be a good place to inject a bit of wisdom about conducting research using the Morton collection and finding aid: you need to be thorough and think broadly . . . and here’s why.

There is one slide in Lot 009292 (slide #18) that is labeled in handwriting “Cataloochee / H. Morton” and it is a color variant of the black-and-white photograph used in Alexander’s autobiography seen above.  None of the other slides in the lot are labeled. The lot is described as containing twelve slides, and the frame numbers printed by Kodak on the slides mounts are 2, 8, 11, 17, 18, 20 22, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36.  Thirty-six exposures was a standard number of frames issued on a roll of film (twenty-four being another).  Knowing this, you might deduce that several sides from this roll of film were weeded out somewhere along the line.  But something else is may have happened . . . .

Slides 2 (a different pose of the model below shot on 4×5 sheet film), 8, and 11 look like Cataloochee scenes; slide 17, however, is a variant scene of an image printed in a brochure for Blowing Rock Ski Lodge!  (Note: The Blowing Rock resort first opened for the 1962-63 season, then became Appalachian Ski Mountain in 1968.  The next skiing post will look at Morton images from this resort.)

Did a Cataloochee image get into the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge brochure by accident, or did Morton move to the second location and continue with the same roll of film?  Well, after frame 18 (labeled Cataloochee) is slide 20, which is a mostly nondescript interior view of skiers in a cafeteria, and slide 22 is another variant view of a different scene in the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge brochure.  Slides 32 through 34 are also likely at Blowing Rock.  The location for slides 35 and 36 could be, too, but would need to be determined by someone who can recognized the mountain in the background.  But because there are so many gaps between frame numbers, the third possibility is that Morton weeded two or more rolls of film and combined the keepers from both into one box.  A dead give away would have been seeing the same frame number of two slides from different locations.

Because the slides in Lot 009292 have subjects and scenes look similar, the finding aid describes the lot as “Cataloochee.”  It wasn’t until further digging for this blog post (digging that given the immensity of the Morton collection could not have been done at the time of processing the collection) revealed that the lot actually contains work made at two resorts.  Plus there are no entries in the Finding aid for Blowing Rock Ski Lodge . . . only Appalachian Ski Mountain.  We’ll have to reckon with the images to see if the dates are the same for both resorts, then go back and update the finding aid with the conclusions.

So once again, here’s the take away: when researching the Morton collection, think broader than your specific topic and be thorough.  You may discover and resolve another “Morton mystery!”

P081_6_6_7_2

Home for the Holidays . . . 1947

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora will be taking his Tar Heels to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Saturday, December 28th. The 2013 team qualified for bowl eligibility on November 23rd with a resounding win over Old Dominion—their sixth win of the season. The following weekend, a loss to Duke, gave the Heels a 6 and 6 record for the season.

The 1947 Carolina team finished their season with an 8 and 2 record, but didn’t go to a bowl.  Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard looks back to that season with an explanation as to why the ’47 Tar Heels were home for the holidays.

1947 UNC football team members

1947 UNC football team members. Back Row L to R: #23 Jim Camp, #86 George Sparger, #40 Walt Pupa, #22 Charlie Justice. Front Row L to R: #29 Bob Cox, #51 Len Szafaryn, #60 Sid Varney, #58 Haywood Fowle, #65 Al Bernot, #42 Bob Mitten, #50 Art Weiner (who passed away on Wednesday, Christmas night).

Many old time-Tar Heel-fans, as well as coaches and players from 1947, have considered the ’47 team to be the best of the “Charlie Justice Era” and there is good reason for that: as head coach Carl Snavely’s prepared for their second season with Justice on his team, there were high hopes for another Southern Conference championship.  UNC’s Sports Information Director Jake Wade, writing in the 1947 issue of Street and Smith Football Pictorial Yearbook, said “King Carl Snavely will have back almost all of his legions of doughty lads that showed their heels to the pack last autumn.”

The ’47 season got underway on September 27th when head coach Wally Butts brought his Georgia Bulldogs to Chapel Hill for a rematch of the Sugar Bowl that had been played about nine months earlier, which Georgia won 20 to 10.  On this September afternoon, however, the Tar Heels came away with a 14-to-7 victory thanks to the passing of Walt Pupa and the catching of Bob Cox and Art Weiner.  The 1947 football season was off to a good start.
Art Weiner catching pass versus Georgia.

UNC left end Art Weiner catches pass during game against Georgia at Kenan Stadium, September 27, 1947. UNC tailback Charlie Justice (left) looks on from a distance while Georgia’s Dan Edwards (#55) watches from a few yards away.

On Friday morning, October 3rd, a bus carrying the Tar Heel team arrived at Raleigh-Durham Airport, ready to make its first trip by plane, a trip to Austin, Texas to meet the University of Texas Longhorns led by standout quarterback Bobby Layne.  The Douglas DC-4, a 50-passenger plane, cost the UNC Athletic Department $5,700 (almost $60,000 in today’s dollars).

Saturday, October 4th was a hot day in Texas—86 degrees to be exact—and the Tar Heels were dressed in those dark Navy shirts.

L to R: UNC Tar Heels football player Walt Pupa, UNC head football coach Carl Snavely, and UNC player Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice, most likely photographed in 1947 during the preseason in Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

L to R: UNC Tar Heels football player Walt Pupa, UNC head football coach Carl Snavely, and UNC player Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, most likely photographed in 1947 during the preseason in Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

The only thing hotter than the Texas sun was the Texas team.  Layne was as good as advertised as he led the Longhorns to a 34 to 0 win before 45,000 fans.  It was the worst Tar Heel defeat since a loss to Pennsylvania 49 to 0 in 1945.  In a 1992 interview, UNC All America End Art Weiner said, “I got so tired of hearing their band play “The Eyes of Texas are upon You.”  (An interesting side note: One of Texas’ 2nd quarter touchdowns was scored by Tom Landry.  He would become a hall of fame coach for the Dallas Cowboys).  Some 2,000 Tar Heel fans, along with the band and cheerleaders, met the team at Woollen Gym on Sunday night at 7:40 as they returned home from Texas. The theme was upbeat and everyone looked forward to the Wake Forest game coming up in six days.

Wake came into Chapel Hill primed and ready, and took up where Texas left off the weekend before.  When the dust settled, Wake had beaten Carolina 19 to 7.  The only Tar Heel bright spot was Justice’s punting average: 51.5 yards per kick.

When the 1946 season ended, Carolina was ranked number 9; when “Peahead” Walker took his Demon Deacons out of Chapel Hill on October 11th, 1947, the Tar Heels had dropped out of the top 20 and two tough road games were just ahead.

Following October 11, 1947 UNC–Wake Forest football game in Kenan Stadium, UNC

Following October 11, 1947 UNC–Wake Forest football game in Kenan Stadium, UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely (in hat, right foreground) prepares to congratulate Wake Forest Head Coach Douglas “Peahead” Walker being carried by his players after Wake Forrest’s victory over Carolina 19 to 7. This was the first time a Charlie Justice era (1946-1949) UNC team had lost in Kenan Stadium. Wake Forest players pictured left to right are: #15 Ed Haddox, Right Halfback; #22 Nick Ognovich, Quarterback; #2? (?); #44 Harry Dowda, Right Halfback; #55 Bernie Hannular, Right Tackle; #42 Bud Gregus, Left Halfback.

The largest crowd in William and Mary football history to date packed Cary Field on October 18th for the game between the Indians (now they are called “The Tribe”) and the Tar Heels.  The 20,000 fans were treated to a close game that was tied 7 to 7 after three quarters.  Walt Pupa’s 1-yarder in the 4th quarter gave Carolina the win 13 to 7.

Next it was a train ride to Gainesville and a homecoming appointment with the University of Florida.  On October 25th, Hosea Rodgers was brilliant, throwing three touchdown passes and running a 76-yard dash.  Overall Rodgers amassed 245 yards and Carolina came away with a 35 to 7 rout.  The Tar Heels were back on track, and Tennessee was coming over the mountains to Chapel Hill in a week.

The game with Tennessee on November 1, 1947 put Charlie Justice back in the spotlight. “Choo Choo” was involved in all three of Carolina’s touchdowns as the Tar Heels beat the Volunteers 20 to 6.  The game also provided photographer Hugh Morton the opportunity to take one of his most-famous and most-reproduced pictures. Morton even entered the picture in a photo contest. The win put Carolina back in the top 20 at number 18.

Charlie Justice running football versus Tennessee, 1947

#22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice (with ball), #58 UNC tackle Haywood Fowle, #68 UNC blocking back Joe Wright (on the ground), #56 Tennessee tackle Charlie Wildman, and #14 Tennessee Guard Ray Drost at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium.

UNC didn’t play NC State in 1944, ’45, or ’46—and neither team was happy about that.  In a 1992 interview, Charlie Justice recalled that there was a rumor going around in late 1946 that the legislature was going to pass a law that the two had to meet each season.  I don’t know how true that rumor was, but the series was back on for 1947, a game originally scheduled to be played in Raleigh’s Riddick Stadium; at State’s request, however, the schools agreed to move the game to Kenan Stadium because it had more seats.  On November 8th, 40,000 fans packed Kenan for UNC’s homecoming.  Carolina’s famous ground game from 1946 returned and the Tar Heels gained 376 rushing yards in a 41 to 6 blowout.  The final two road games of the ’47 season were just ahead.

Fog, rain, snow, and mud greeted the Tar Heels for the 1947 Maryland game played in Washington’s Griffith Stadium on November 15th.  By game time the field was described as a quagmire.  The weather was so bad that Coach Carl Snavely kept his players in the locker room just as long as he could.  Snavely’s concern for his players gave photographer Hugh Morton another opportunity to take yet another classic image.  The picture of Walt Pupa and Charlie Justice in the locker room before the game has been reproduced dozens of times over the years.  Ironically it would be Pupa and Justice that would lead the Tar Heels to a 19 to 0 victory before 22,251 rain-soaked fans.  Maryland Head Coach Jim Tatum’s high-scoring Terrapins were not so high-scoring on this day.  There was no “fear of the turtle.”  The Tar Heels were on a five game roll, ranked 13th, and were headed for a showdown in Durham.

UNC fullback Walt Pupa (L) and UNC Tailback Charlie Justice in the locker room at Griffith Stadium, Washington DC.

UNC fullback Walt Pupa (L) and UNC Tailback Charlie Justice in the locker room at Griffith Stadium, Washington DC prior to the 1947 game versus the University of Maryland.

On November 22nd, 56,500 fans packed a wet Duke Stadium (now it’s Wallace Wade Stadium) for the 34th Carolina–Duke game. The rain stopped just before 2 PM and the opening kickoff. After a scoreless first quarter, it was “The Charlie Justice Show” as he scored two touchdowns and passed for a third to make the final score 21 to 0.

Following the Tar Heel win, there was talk in the air about a bowl game and the most logical choice would be the Orange Bowl in Miami for a game against Georgia Tech.  Carolina students paraded around the stadium carrying a life size display with the words “Snavely Goes Bowling.”  But on Friday evening, November 28th, the Orange Bowl committee announced its choice and the Jackets’ opponent would the University of Kansas on New Year’s Day. But what about Carolina? They were now up to number 10 in the rankings and Kansas was 13. When confronted, the committee said they wanted “a high-powered offensive team.”  The next day, November 29th, Carolina met Virginia in the season finale. CBS play-by-play announcer Red Barber, who is also the official announcer for the Orange Bowl, was in Chapel Hill for the UVA game and had planned to interview the team about an Orange Bowl invitation.  A surprised Barber said, “I have no idea what took place in their meeting in Miami.”  40,000 thousand fans jammed into Kenan Stadium and saw Charlie Justice have another field day, gaining a total of 279 yards in a 40 to 7 win.  Talk about your high-powered offense!  [Editor's note: And the score of the 1948 Orange Bowl? Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14.  Kansas has 235 total yards offense, to Georgia Tech's 204.]

Following the Virginia win, Carolina got several minor bowl invitations, including one from the Legion Bowl that was to be played in Los Angeles, but the University turned down the invitations. In a statement on November 30th, Chairman A.W. Hobbs of the University faculty athletic committee said the team had gone through a long, hard season and the committee thought it best to reject the Los Angeles offer as well as several minor bowl bids.  The trip would have meant final exams for the team members would have to be set ahead.  Here is part of Chairman Hobbs’ statement:

“The University appreciates the many invitations but feels compelled to decline them due to the fact the team has just completed a difficult schedule . . . and we feel it would not be in the best interest of the football squad to prolong the season.”

Charlie Justice in a 1984 interview said the team voted to reject the bids as well, adding that several of the players were World War II vets and they hadn’t been able to be home for Christmas since 1941.

When the final rankings came out for the 1947 season UNC came in at ninth, receiving seven first place votes.  They closed out the season with a seven-game winning streak . . . and were home for the holidays.

A thread of royal blue . . . a final visit to a special place

Prologue:
Duke University play-by-play broadcaster Bob Harris called Charlie Justice “the greatest player to ever wear the Carolina colors.”  During the “Charlie Justice Era” those colors were navy blue in 1946 and ’47 and Carolina Blue after that, but there was always a thread of royal blue that ran through Charlie’s life and career.

“Justice Always At Best Against Duke”
Greensboro Record headline, Thursday, November 17, 1949

Introduction:
Carolina will play Duke on the gridiron for the 100th time today, November 30, 2013.  Over the years, that match-up played a part in the life and times of Tar Heel legend Charlie Justice.  It was twelve seasons ago, during Carolina–Duke weekend, that Justice made what turned out to be his final visit to Kenan Stadium.  The events of that weekend are the stuff of legends.  In keeping with this holiday weekend’s theme of UNC football rivalries, Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the thread and the final visit.

Note: to see a plethora of UNC versus Duke football photographs by Hugh Morton, you may search bothUNC vs. Duke football” and “UNC v. Duke football” (until I get a chance to change the title for all photographs to the former!) in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Action during the UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C, November 24, 1973. UNC players: #61 Offensive Guard Billy Newton and #40 Halfback Jimmy Jerome. Duke players: #62 Linebacker Dave Meier, #24 Defensive Safety Buster Cox, #76 Defense Tackle John Ricca, and #45 Linebacker Keith Stoneback.

Action during the UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C, November 24, 1973. UNC players: #61 Offensive Guard Billy Newton and #40 Halfback Jimmy Jerome. Duke players: #62 Linebacker Dave Meier, #24 Defensive Safety Buster Cox, #76 Defense Tackle John Ricca, and #45 Linebacker Keith Stoneback.

It was not surprising that Charlie Justice made his final visit to Kenan Stadium during a Carolina–Duke football game.  The Justice–Duke connection runs through his life going back to his high school days at Lee Edwards High in Asheville.  When Justice and his Lee Edwards High teammates finished the 1942 football season, they had a 26 and 6 won-lost record and had scored 939 points while their opponents had scored only 159 during their three seasons together.  The folks at Duke University invited the entire team to visit the campus and attend a football game.  Duke Head Coach Eddie Cameron seemed interested in the entire team, but knew each young man was also being recruited by that “other big four”—Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.  Justice liked what he saw at Duke, but knew it would be at least three years before he would be available to think about college.

In the spring of 1943, Justice enlisted in the Navy, which sent him to Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland.  On August 7, 1943, the base newspaper, The Mainsheet listed on the front page an “urgent call” for football players.  Bainbridge was planning for its first football team.  Justice reported, but wasn’t given a second look because he had only high school experience while most of the other players had college and professional backgrounds.  It didn’t take long, however, for him to be noticed in a big way.  Bainbridge head coach Joe Maniaci called him “the greatest natural football player I’ve ever seen.”  Justice led the Commodores to undefeated seasons in 1943 and 1944.  In an interview in The Baltimore Sun on October 18, 1944, Justice indicated his future plans by saying, “it’s Duke for me.”  Needless to say, Coach Cameron was delighted.

Following the 1944 season, Justice was transferred to Pearl Harbor and played the 1945 season with the Pacific Fleet All-Stars.  It was there where he became good friends with teammate George McAfee, who had played at Duke from 1937 to 1939.

After the ’45 season, Justice called his wife Sarah and told her he would be coming home in early January.  “Please, please don’t tell anyone I’m coming.  I want this vacation to be ours.  It’s real flattering, but these college scouts are on me everywhere I turn,” said Justice.  The train ride from San Francisco to Asheville was long and tedious, but finally he was home.  As he exited the Pullman, there stood a fellow with a wide smile and thinning red hair.  It was Charlie’s old Asheville friend Dan Hill, who was now the assistant athletic director at Duke. “Dan Hill, what the blazes are you doing here?” asked Justice.

“Why, you know what I’m here for,” said Hill.  “We want you to attend Duke, Charlie.  We’d like you to play a little football for us, too.”

Charlie begged off an immediate commitment, located Sarah, and headed home.

Justice still had an interest in Duke, and later set up a visit to the Duke campus.  Wallace Wade had since returned to Duke and was to be the new head coach.  During a conversation with Coach Wade, Justice said, “Coach, I played over at Pearl Harbor with one of your boys who was one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen.”

“Who was that?” Wade asked.

“George McAfee,” said Justice.

“George McAfee wasn’t a football player.  Steve Lach was my kind of football player,” snapped the coach.  Lach had also been a star at Duke and was on the team at Pearl Harbor, but didn’t get much playing time.

When the conversation with Coach Wade ended, Charlie and Sarah left.  As they were walking to the car, Sarah smiled and said, “I know one thing.  We’re not coming to Duke, are we?”  She knew how Charlie admired George McAfee.

Charlie looked her in the eye.  “That’s the truth.  We’re not coming to Duke.”

In an interview in the November, 1949 issue of Sport, Charlie’s mom said, “Duke made the best offer.  Wallace Wade and Dan Hill said they would not make a flat offer, but would do anything anyone else would.  But Charlie didn’t want to play for Coach Wade.”

Author Lewis Bowling, in his excellent 2006 book, Wallace Wade: Championship Years at Alabama and Duke, wrote:

It is known that Duke had A-1 priority while Charlie was romping to high school touchdowns. The Navy engulfed him, however, and when he emerged was perhaps the most sought-after service athlete in the country.  Married and discharged, Justice went to see Dan Hill first.  He told Dan what he wanted.  Dan told Duke, and Duke told Charlie, ‘You-funny-boy-you.’

During an interview in July of 1984, I asked Charlie what he asked of Duke.  He said, “I asked the same question at Duke that I asked at Chapel Hill.  Since I was eligible for the GI Bill, I asked if my football scholarship could be transferred to my wife.  Duke said no, but Robert Fetzer, the athletic director at UNC said he would check with the NCAA and the Southern Conference to make sure it would be OK.”  Turns out it was, and the Justices enrolled at UNC on February 14, 1946.

Charlotte Observer sports editor Wilton Garrison, writing in the October 1947 issue of Sport, described Charlie’s first encounter with Duke on the gridiron:

Sarah Justice loves football. She sat in Kenan Stadium the afternoon of November 23, 1946, and celebrated her third wedding anniversary by watching the whole Duke Foundation fall upon her husband.  But when they removed the rubble from her darling he was still in one piece, able to ride piggy-back on his fellow teammates as they walked off the field with a 22 to 7 victory.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice (#22) being carried by his teammates, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 23, 1946.

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice (#22) being carried by his teammates, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 23, 1946.

Said Coach Carl Snavely following the ‘46 game, “I don’t think that Charlie Justice has played a better game all year than he did today.”  One of Charlie’s teammates that day was end Ed Bilpuch who would later become a Professor of Nuclear Physics at Duke.

The following year in Durham, Justice was involved in all three of Carolina’s touchdowns as the Tar Heels won, 21-0.  The Alumni Review headline read: “Duke Outclassed, Outplayed, Outscored.”

Charlie’s 43-yard touchdown run in the 1948 UNC – Duke game is one of the most talked-about plays in Tar Heel history.  The play broke open a game that was tied and opened the flood gates for a 20 to 0 win.

A few days before the ’49 UNC vs. Duke game, Justice received the first pressing of the recording “All The Way Choo Choo,” from band leader Johnny Long, a Duke graduate, class of 1935. That 1949 Carolina–Duke game has often been called the greatest game in North Carolina sports history.  57,500 fans in Duke Stadium (now Wallace Wade Stadium) saw Carolina win a thriller 21 to 20. Duke was led by Billy Cox and Carolina was led by Charlie Justice.  Cox and Justice would reunite with the Washington Redskins in 1952.

Following each of Carolina’s four wins during the “Justice Era,” Duke Head Coach Wallace Wade would was always quick to praise the Tar Heel team, but didn’t mentioned Justice or any Tar Heel by name.  This quote is from November 23, 1946 is typical:  “It is obvious that they completely outplayed us.  I would like to pay great praise for a great team.”  Nine days after the ’49 Duke – UNC game, on Tuesday, December 2nd, Coach Wade and Justice were both guests at the Sanford (N.C.) Quarterback Club dinner and Wade broke his silence about Charlie Justice.  Said Wade:  “No man during my career as a coach has had the degree of success against my teams throughout his career that Charlie Justice has had.”

When Carolina met Duke for the 50th time on November 21, 1964, Hugh Morton brought his young daughter, Catherine, to the game with him.  Hugh and Catherine were guests in the chancellor’s box, next to the UNC press box at Kenan Stadium.  Hugh didn’t remain in the chancellor’s box very long.  He took his familiar place on the Carolina sideline with camera in hand.  As the game got underway, young Catherine looked around and noticed that most of the guests were socializing and not really paying attention to the game as she was.  However, there was one other gentleman watching the game and he came over and asked Catherine if she understood what was going on down on the field.  When she said “no,” he offered to explain the game and remained with her until her father returned.  So Catherine Morton these days says that she learned about “first downs and fourth downs” from “the nice gentleman” in the chancellor’s box that day: Charlie Justice.  He most likely used his parenting skills that afternoon.  (Both of Charlie’s children—Ronnie in 1948 and Barbara in 1952—were born at Duke Hospital).

The Justice-Duke connection continued when the Tar Heels met the Blue Devils in 1978.  Justice listened to the game on the radio at his home.  He was recovering from a heart attack.  On October 22, 1978, Justice was in Rockingham, N.C. where he was to be the Grand Marshall of the American 500 NASCAR race.  But in the early morning hours he suffered his second heart attack.  At 10 am on November 14, 1978, he had open heart surgery at Duke University Medical Center, of all places.  He would later say, “that’s probably the best place for me to have serious surgery . . . you don’t think they would let me die on their watch do you?”  He fought and won his biggest battle, and on Thursday, November 23rd, Justice was able to go home to Greensboro and celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary.

Two days later, Carolina met Duke for the 65th time.  With four minutes to go, and trailing 15 to 2, Carolina Head Coach Dick Crum called a time out and called his team around him. “We’ve got to win this one, remember, for Charlie Justice.” Crum had told his team following the Virginia game that if they won against Duke, they would sign and give the game ball to Charlie.  In the final four minutes, the Tar Heels scored twice and “Famous Amos” Lawrence crossed the goal line with 11 seconds on the clock.  The ball that Lawrence carried was put into safe keeping and Coach Crum delivered it to Charlie on Thursday, March 29, 1979 at the Greensboro Kiwanis Club meeting.  Said Justice, with a smile “…this is the first game football I ever received at Carolina. My four years we only had two footballs, and coach checked them closely after every game.”

The 1993 UNC – Duke game was played at 11 o’clock on a Friday morning, thanks to ABC-TV.  Although their anniversary was November 23rd, Charlie and Sarah celebrated their 50th anniversary at the game on November 26th.  Following the game, a reception was held at the Carolina Inn with photographer Hugh Morton documenting every minute.

Woody Durham, John Swofford, Charlie Justice, and Dick Baddour at unknown event held at the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Center.

Woody Durham, John Swofford, Charlie Justice, and Dick Baddour at unknown event held at the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Center, circa late 1990s to early 2000s.

When Carolina met Duke for the 2001 game, the “Charlie Justice Era” players held one of their reunions.  On Friday evening November 16, 2001, the “Golden Age” players gathered at the Kenan Football Center for a special ceremony.  On that evening, the first-floor memorabilia room was dedicated and will be forever known as the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor.”  Among those involved were Head Football Coach John Bunting, UNC Chancellor James Moeser, Carolina Athletics Director Dick Baddour, world class photographer Hugh Morton, UNC letter winner Bob Cox (who helped organize the reunion), along with former players, Justice family members, friends and fans. “The Voice of the Tar Heels,” Woody Durham presided over the ceremony.  Later that evening he would broadcast his 1000 basketball game on the Tar Heel Sports Network.  Justice was there to officially cut the ribbon.  “I tell the current players all the time that the foundation of this football program was laid in the 1940s when you guys came here and did what you did,” said Baddour.  “We’re standing in the ‘Charlie Justice Hall of Honor.’  It doesn’t get any better than that.”  The dedication ceremony was followed by a dinner in the Pope VIP Box at Kenan Stadium.

During halftime of the game on Saturday, Woody Durham came down from his broadcast position to emcee a special ceremony at the 50-yard line.  Leaders of the four “Justice Era” teams were driven to midfield in special golf carts.  Ralph Strayhorn, Co-Captain in 1946, Joe Wright, Co-Captain in 1947, Art Weiner, All-America in 1948, and Justice, All-America and Captain in 1949.  The team members presented Baddour with a check in the amount of one million, three hundred thousand dollars for the “Justice Era Endowment Fund.”  The players were then introduced to a standing-ovation from the Kenan crowd.  In introducing Justice, Durham simply said, “He was the best.”  Charlie then stepped forward and raised his right hand, which was half-closed due his crippling arthritis.

Following the ceremony, Durham returned to his position high above Kenan Stadium and as he looked back on the events of the weekend, he said to his broadcast partner Mick Mixon, “I hope that was not Charlie’s final visit to Kenan Stadium.”  During the second half, Coach Bunting was seen several times glancing up at the patio outside his office in the Football Center.  That’s where the Justice family was sitting in the warm November sun.

Following the game, Marla and I hurried from our seats in section 220 down to the Football Center, hoping to get a word with Charlie and Sarah before they left.  When we arrived, as one might guess, Justice was signing autographs in the lobby.  The entire Justice family then came out to the front as team mate Joe Neikirk brought the Justice car up to the door.   I remember standing there beside Charlie as he started to enter the car, but then stopped, looked up at the magnificent Kenan Football Center and said, “they didn’t have anything like this when we were here.”  He then got in the car and Neikirk drove away.
Hugh Morton, in a post game interview said: “You could start a real argument around here about who is the most exciting basketball player in school history, but if you asked anyone who is the most exciting football player in school history, the answer would be ‘Charles Choo-Choo Justice’—hands down, no questions.”

Sadly, Woody’s worst nightmare came true . . . for Charlie, it was his final visit to a special place.

Epilogue:
On October 18, 2003, Duke was preparing to play Wake Forest in Wade Stadium in Durham, when long-time “Voice of the Blue Devils” Bob Harris took time during his broadcast to say:

I know it’s homecoming in Chapel Hill, but there’s a gray cloud hanging over the football program because of the death of the greatest player to ever wear the Carolina colors.  Charlie Choo Choo Justice has passed away in his hometown of Cherryville.  He will be missed by not only the Carolina folks, but all of us who knew him.

Missed indeed.  Beautiful autumn Saturdays in Kenan Stadium would never be the same.

Yes, Tar Heels . . . there is a Virginia

On Saturday, November 9, 2013, UNC celebrated homecoming when the Tar Heels hosted the University of Virginia.  In the early years of their rivalry, UNC and UVA played on or near Thanksgiving Day.  This years’ game marked the 118th meeting between the two schools going back to 1892—when they meet, the unusual can happen and often does.  Morton Collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at a few highlights from 118 games played so far.  After some fact checking, I threw in a little extra about the early years.

Fans cheering at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus University of Virginia at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 19, 1955.

Fans cheering at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus University of Virginia at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 19, 1955.

It is called the “South’s Oldest Rivalry” and it began with two games in 1892—the first played in Charlottesville on October 22, that Virginia won by the score of 30 to 18, the second played a month later in Atlanta on November 26 won by the Tar Heels 26 to 0.  The following year, on November 30, 1893, the two teams began a series of Thanksgiving Day games that continued until 1939, with a few exceptions.

Scene from the University of North Carolina versus University of Virginia football game, 30 November 1905 at Norfolk, Virginia.  Photograph by Cole & Holladay, Durham.  North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004).

Scene from the University of North Carolina versus University of Virginia football game, 30 November 1905 at Norfolk, Virginia. Photograph by Cole & Holladay, Durham. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004).

After the 1892 game at Atlanta, Carolina was able to win only three times in the next twenty—including a 17-0 victory at Richmond in 1905.  The Tar Heel’s low point came in 1912 when the Cavaliers won 66 to 0 on a snowy day.  Virginia dominated the series prior to World War I, boasting a 17-5-1 record.

The teams did not play against each other in 1899, 1906, and 1909.  For 1899, according to the News and Observer, “bad feelings engendered” in the previous year’s game caused “all athletic relations between the two institutions” to be severed shortly after the game.  Virginia accused UNC of having professionals on its team, which UNC denied.  In 1906 there was a dispute between the schools about which rules to follow with the introduction of new college football rules that year—making the above 1905 UNC/UVA photograph all the more historically important as it was their last to be played before the forward pass.

All of the contests between 1893 and 1916 took place in Richmond, except for 1900, which Norfolk hosted.  Because of the lopsidedness of the series during the pre-WWI era, the Tar Heels 7-to-0 win at Richmond in 1916 and their 6-0 victory in the first game played at Chapel Hill in 1919 (when the series resumed after the war) have often been added to many “greatest wins lists.”  Going into the 1916 game, Carolina had lost eight games in a row with Virginia and, according to author Ken Rappoport, winning had become an “impassioned vendetta.”  On November 30, 1916 before 15,000 fans in rainy Richmond, Tar Heel Bill Folger ran 52 yards through right tackle for the game’s only touchdown.  George Tandy kicked the extra point to cap a Tar Heel win for the ages.

There were two exceptions to the Virginia/North Carolina Thanksgiving game day: 1900 when UNC and Georgetown fought to a  0-0 tie for the “Southern championship,” and 1901 when UNC played at Clemson.  The Cavaliers and Tar Heels games for those years occurred five days prior to the holiday.

Following the 1916 win, celebrations broke out in Richmond and in Chapel Hill.  Raby Tennent, a member of the ’16 Tar Heels, remembered being carried on the shoulders of Tar Heel fans around the field in Richmond, and when the team returned to Chapel Hill, fans met them at the bottom of South Hill and carried them to Emerson Field where a huge bonfire was ignited. That 1916 win has become the stuff of legends.  Author Thomas Wolfe even included the game in his book The Web and the Rock.  In Wolfe’s fictionalized account, UNC became Pine Rock and Virginia became Madison.  Raby Tennent became Raby Bennett.

Three seasons would pass before the two teams met again.  On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919, the two schools played on Emerson Field—the first time the teams played in Chapel Hill.  Carolina beat Virginia 6 to 0 before 2,400 cheering Tar Heel fans.  Three more UNC–UVA games on Emerson Field, in 1921, 1923, and 1925, proved that Carolina needed a bigger facility.  Hundreds of fans had to be turned away.

When Virginia came to Chapel Hill for their contest on November 24, 1927 “it was a whole new ball game.”  On Thanksgiving Day,  Carolina met Virginia at brand new Kenan Memorial Stadium.  During a pre-game ceremony, John Sprunt Hill presented the facility on behalf of the donor William Rand Kenan, Jr., while Governor Angus W. McLean accepted on behalf of the State of North Carolina.  Following the ceremony, to the delight of 30,000 cheering fans and Virginia Governor Harry F. Byrd, they played the game.  The headline on the front page of the following day’s Greensboro Daily News read, “Carolina Wins A Close Tilt From Virginia 14-13: New Stadium Dedicated.”

Carolina’s victory had come on the toe of placekicker Garrett Morehead.
When the two teams returned to Charlottesville on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1928, President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace, along with Mrs. Woodrow Wilson were at Lambeth Field for a 24 to 20 Tar Heel victory.  The Carolina win streak would continue until November 24, 1932 when Virginia beat the Tar Heels for the first time in new Scott Stadium.

A new Carolina win streak started in 1933 and continued until Thanksgiving Day, November 20, 1941… which was actually the third Thursday in November. (Six days later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would declare the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day and seventeen days later, a Pearl Harbor event would change the world forever).  But on this day, Carolina and Virginia would meet for the 43rd time and 24,000 fans turned out.

University of Virginia's Bill Dudley (#35) touchdown run during the UNC-UVA football game at Kenan Stadium, November 20, 1941.

University of Virginia’s Bill Dudley (#35) touchdown run during the UNC-UVA football game at Kenan Stadium, November 20, 1941.

Many came to see Virginia’s 19-year-old sensation Captain “Bullet” Bill Dudley.
The stage was set for photographer Hugh Morton to take one of his most famous, and one of his most-often reproduced photographs.  With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, and leading by a score of 14 to 7, Virginia had the ball on its own 21 yard-line . . . third down and eleven yards to go for a first down.  Bill Dudley drops back in punt formation . . . but he doesn’t kick, instead he runs the ball around right end, picking up blockers along the way, as Morton frames and shoots.  The run covers 79 yards and makes the score 21 to 7.

University of Virginia All America football star "Bullet" Bill Dudley, holding signed print of a well-known Hugh Morton picture from the November 20, 1941, UNC-UVA football game.

University of Virginia All America football star “Bullet” Bill Dudley, holding signed print of a well-known Hugh Morton picture from the November 20, 1941, UNC-UVA football game.

Novelist and journalist Burke Davis’ title for the picture, “I’m Coming, Virginia,” was also the title of a popular swing tune from the era.  The final score that day was Virginia 28, Carolina 7.  Of Virginia’s 28 points Bill Dudley scored 22. His pass to Bill Preston accounted for the other six.  He gained 215 yards on the ground and completed six passes for 117 yards.  John Derr, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News started his account of the game with the line:  “What’s a six-letter word meaning football powerhouse?  The answer: D-U-D-L-E-Y”  In a 1973 interview, UNC football great Charlie Justice said Bill Dudley was the greatest runner he had ever seen.

UNC's Bob Mitten (#42 with ball); #45 Virginia quarterback Edward Mifflin; and #40 Virginia left halfback Henry Woodward, December 1, 1945 at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Stadium.

UNC’s Bob Mitten (#42 with ball); #45 Virginia quarterback Edward Mifflin; and #40 Virginia left halfback Henry Woodward, December 1, 1945 at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium.

Starting in 1942 and continuing through 1949, Carolina would beat Virginia seven times, losing only in 1944.  The years 1946 to 1949 are known as the “Justice Era” and rightly so.  No time in Carolina football history has even come close to what was accomplished during those years.  Justice led the Tar Heels to four historic wins over Virginia during the era. In so doing he gained 727 yards on the ground and threw 11 touchdown passes.  The Greensboro Daily News headlines tell the story:

  • 1946:  Justice Tops 49-14 Attack
  • 1947:  Choo Choo Scores Twice As Tar Heels Win Easily
  • 1948:  Justice Runs Wild in Final Contest

UNC-Chapel Hill tailback Charlie Justice (#22) running with ball at a UNC vs Virginia football game held in in Kenan Stadium on November 29, 1947. Also in the scene are #48 UNC Blocking Back Don Hartig, #60 Virginia Right End Robert Weir, #23 UNC Wingback Jim Camp, and #60 UNC Right Guard Sid Varney.

UNC-Chapel Hill tailback Charlie Justice (#22) running with ball at a UNC vs Virginia football game played at Kenan Stadium on November 29, 1947.  Also in the scene are #48 UNC Blocking Back Don Hartig, #60 Virginia Right End Robert Weir, #23 UNC Wingback Jim Camp, and #60 UNC Right Guard Sid Varney.

Charlie Justice played his final varsity game in Kenan Stadium in perfect football weather on November 26, 1949—a game against Virginia in front of 48,000 fans.  His 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the winning margin in the 14 to 7 final score.  Carolina would get an invitation to play Rice in the 1950 Cotton Bowl.  The headline in the November 30th  “Alumni Review” read: “Justice, Weiner Spark Tar Heel Win, 14-7.”

A three-game Tar Heel letdown followed the “Justice Era,” but wins in ’53 through ’56 got the team back on track.  The game in 1955 was unique in that only 9,000 fans showed up in a cold, dreary Kenan Stadium.  One of the 9,000 was photographer Hugh Morton.

If the 1956 Carolina – Virginia game had been a Broadway play, the following pre-kickoff announcement would have been in order: “At this afternoon’s performance, the part of Charlie Justice will be played by Ed Sutton.”

He was that good, that day.  16,000 fans in windy Scott Stadium saw Sutton lead the Tar Heels to three scores in the third period to secure a 21 to 7 win.  During that crucial period, Sutton carried the ball four times for 94 of his 136 yards on the ground. He caught three passes for 40 yards giving him a primary hand in advancing the ball 134 of the 201 yards traveled for the Tar Heels’ three scores.

When Carolina returned to Scott Stadium on November 10, 1962, they were again in a five game winning streak against the Cavaliers.  On that day, Tar Heel sophomore Ken Willard was featured in an 11 to 7 win. An event took place prior to the kickoff that day the likes of which had never taken place and hasn’t taken place since.  Charlie Justice was introduced to the crowd and presented an award naming him “Virginia’s All Time Opponent.”  The plaque presented to Justice reads in part:

The University of Virginia presents to Charles Justice, UNC ’50, on the occasion of the 67th renewal, 1962, of the University of Virginia vs. the University of North Carolina football game, the oldest continuous series in the South, for the greatest single performance by a UNC player in this series.  In 1948 at Scott Stadium you finished the greatest season of your college career in the following manner: Rushing – 167 yards on 15 carries; Passing – 87 yards on 4 completions of 6 attempts; Punting – 5 times for 40.1 average; Touchdowns – 2 on runs of 80 and 50 yards; TD Passes – 2 on passes of 40 and 31 yards. Score – UNC 34 – UVA 12.  In four UVA-UNC games you gained 727 yards and scored on passes for 11 touchdowns. The University of Virginia salutes the Carolina Choo Choo, our all-time opponent.

From 1974 until 1982 Carolina dominated the series, but following the win in Scott Stadium in 1981, the Tar Heels would suffer a drought at that storied facility until 2010.  The loss there in 1996 was devastating.

There was Orange Bowl talk in the air as Head Coach Mack Brown’s sixth ranked Tar Heels rolled into Charlottesville for a game on November 16, 1996. The 9 and 1 Heels took charge of the game from the beginning, as a packed Scott Stadium Virginia crowd and a few hundred or so Tar Heels looked on.  As the fourth quarter was ticking away and leading 17 to 3, Carolina seemed headed for a game-clinching score. With the ball at the Cavalier nine, quarterback Chris Keldorf dropped back in the shotgun as five Tar Heel receivers flooded the end zone.  Keldorf first looked for tailback Leon Johnson but he was tied up blocking an on-rushing linebacker.  Just then flanker Octavus Barnes seemed to come open on a crossing pattern and Keldorf let fly. Virginia defensive back Antwan Harris stepped in front of Barnes, made the pick and was away on a 95-yard score.  Following the PAT, the score was 17 to 10 and the momentum had shifted.  Over the next few minutes, the 35-degree afternoon got even colder for that few hundred Tar Heels as Virginia rallied for another touchdown tying the score at 17.  Then with just over two minutes left, Virginia had the ball at their own 44.  As overtime loomed, Virginia quarterback Tim Sherman rifled a long pass over the middle for Germane Crowell who was covered by Robert Williams and Omar Brown.  All three went for the ball and for a split second it looked like Brown had intercepted, but Crowell took the ball away. It was a Virginia first down at the Carolina 15.  All Virginia had to do was run a couple of plays and then have Rafael Garcia kick a 32-yard field goal for the win.  Ironically Harris and Crowell were both from North Carolina.

As the Wahoos stormed the field in celebration, things got beyond ugly real quick.  Bottles, cans, oranges, and ice rained down on those few Tar Heels as they tried to get out of the stadium. Coach Brown feared for the safety of his players, his staff, and that small band of Carolina supporters as security guards in the area causally watched the proceedings.  When Coach Brown finally got to the media room, he chose not to mention the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Virginia fans.  Instead, he said, “I am absolutely sick. It is a miserable feeling to lose this football game.  But—I am proud of these guys.  We’ll bounce back.”  The 1996 Tar Heels did bounce back . . . finishing the season 10 and 2 and beating West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

When the Cavaliers came into Kenan Stadium this year, they were facing a three game Tar Heel win streak in the series, and as we said in the beginning, the unusual can and often happens when these two meet on the gridiron.

So, when was the last time you saw a wide receiver complete a touchdown pass to a quarterback or when did you see one team return a punt and an intercepted pass for a score?  When did you see a quarterback run, pass and receive for touchdowns?  How about a game with 18 total penalties for 147 yards and 5 calls for too many players in the backfield?  Or can you remember a time when one team had three players named T.J., with teammates named A.J., R.J., and J.J. and with the opposition featuring players named C.J., E.J., and D.J.?  Well the answer to all of the above played out on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the 118th meeting between the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina.  By the way, Carolina won the game 45 to 14.

One final unusual note.  A check of this year’s game program indicated that Tar Heel quarterback Marquise Williams’ jersey number was 12, but when he took the field he was wearing jersey number 2 as a tribute to his friend and mentor Bryn Renner who was injured in the game with NC State last weekend. Renner, UNC starting quarterback, would normally wear jersey number 2.

Only time will tell what might happen when the Hoos and the Heels meet for game 119.

Film of John F. Kennedy in the Morton collection

Battleship USS North Carolina Commission visit to the White House, 1961.

John F. Kennedy during a White House visit by a contingent of North Carolina politicians, 27 April 1961.  Left to right are Hargrove Bowles, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Terry Sanford (front row) and B. Everett Jordan, Luther Hodges, and Sam Ervin, Jr.  Photograph by Hugh Morton.

On this fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, A View to Hugh would be remiss without a post about Kennedy.  But what to write?  JFK has been mentioned or featured several times here, including “A Spark of Greatness,” a four-part series (the link is for part one) related to the presidential and North Carolina gubernatorial race for 1960, and “Memorial for JFK, May 1964” that tells of the ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium on 17 May 1964 and Hugh Morton’s chairing the statewide effort to raise funds for North Carolina’s contribution to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

An underutilized portion of the Morton collection is the moving image holdings, which are quite extensive.  A View to Hugh, however, has yet to include a post that draws on any of the footage . . . until today.  The link below leads to about a minute of film (without sound) shot by Hugh Morton:

P081_MI_010001 Kennedy Sanford DC Med Res

On 27 April 1961 Morton, as chairman of the Battleship USS North Carolina Commission, made this motion picture footage while visiting President John F. Kennedy at the White House Rose Garden.  Morton was part of a delegation that included several North Carolinians: Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, Jr., director of the state’s Conservation and Development Board; Governor Terry Sanford; United States Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges (the state’s governor prior to Sanford) and United States senators B. Everett Jordan and Sam Ervin, Jr.  The footage shows Sanford presenting Kennedy with the first “admiral” certificate in the “North Carolina Navy” as part the fundraising effort to bring the mothballed WWII-era battleship USS North Carolina from New Jersey to Wilmington, N. C.  Admirals would be those who donated $100 or more to the effort.

In reality, it was a different framed item altogether.  The certificate wasn’t back from the printer in time, so a framed item from the office of White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger served as a surrogate.  Oddly enough, the stand-in certificate was for Salinger’s admiralty in a Flagship Fleet.  Kennedy burst into laughter when he caught the substitution.

"Kennedy, Sanford, Give Boost to Trade Event," News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 1.

“Kennedy, Sanford, Give Boost to Trade Event,” News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 1.

The larger mission at hand was planning for North Carolina’s Autumn International Trade Fair, then thought likely to be held in Charlotte in October later that year.  According to Roy Parker, Jr.’s article the following day in Raleigh’s News and Observer, Kennedy “took time from a fast-paced schedule to promote the fair.” After leaving a top-level National Security Council meeting, Kennedy met briefly with the group inside his office before they stepped outside to the Rose Garden.  Kennedy said a few non-committal words of endorsement for the exposition (you can listen to a brief recording from the Kennedy Library website) after Sanford invited Kennedy to attend, because Kennedy would be speaking at UNC Chapel Hill during its University Day celebration on October 12th.

It would seem the battleship commission presentation took place moments after the trade fair promotion.  The News and Observer also published a photograph of that presentation, which appeared on page 38.

Kennedy Named N. C. Admiral

“Kennedy Named N. C. Admiral,” (Associated Press article), News and Observer, 28 April 1961, page 38.

The Kennedy Library website also has two photographs of the noontime occasion: Presentation of a certificate to President Kennedy from Governor Terry Sanford and Senators Sam Ervin, Jr. and B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina, 12:12PM.  In the photograph with Morton on the right, he is turned inward to the group so you cannot see his face.  Another photograph of the group, without Morton, can be seen at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library, part of its Daily Reflector negative collection.

 

A medal for Dean

There will be some great Tar Heel news out of Washington, D.C. today—November 20th, 2013.  Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at an honor for one of the greatest Tar Heels ever.

Dean SmithCan you name two things each of the following has in common?

  • Bob Hope
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Lowell Thomas
  • David Brinkley
  • Andy Griffith
  • Adm. Arleigh Burke
  • John Glenn
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Duke Ellington
  • Richard Petty
  • Dr. Billy Graham
  • Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan

Each one of these distinguished individuals has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and each one has been photographed by world-class photographer Hugh Morton.  We can now add one more name to that list: UNC‘s legendary basketball coach Dean Edwards Smith.  Sixteen distinguished individuals, including the man who was Carolina basketball from 1961 until his retirement following the 1997 season, will receive the medal today at a White House ceremony from President Barack Obama.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is presented to those who have “made especially meritorious contributions to security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”  President Obama announced the latest list of recipients on August 8, 2013.

Others to receive the medal this year are President Bill Clinton, Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, senators Daniel Inouye and Richard Lugar, astronaut Sally Ride, and entertainers Loretta Lynn and Oprah Winfrey.  Additionally Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and author; Mario Molina, Nobel Prize-winning environmental scientist; Arturo Sandoval, Cuban jazz musician; Gloria Steinem, women’s rights activist; Cordy Tindell Vivian, civil rights activist; Judge Patricia Wald, the first woman to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington; and Bayard Rustin, gay civil rights activist.

During his 36 years leading the Tar Heels, coach Smith chalked up 879 wins, 11 final four appearances, 13 ACC championships and two national titles . . . along with an Olympic gold medal in 1976.  Along the way he has been awarded membership in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In making the announcement, President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their lives to enriching ours.  This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.”

In addition to his basketball resume, Coach Smith was a champion for civil rights, human rights, and academic achievement. The graduation rate for his players is 96 percent.

As a loyal Tar Heel since birth, I was especially pleased to see a positive Carolina athletic story on the evening news and the reaction in Chapel Hill has been likewise, extremely positive.

“I’m so proud of Coach Smith, happy for his family and friends and appreciative to President Obama for this just recognition,” said current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams who played and coached under Smith’s leadership.

Tar Heel Head Football Coach Larry Fedora said the honor is great news for UNC.  “I can’t imagine how he feels,” Fedora said.  “What a tremendous thing for our university.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford, a former athletics director at UNC, called Smith, “one of the most successful, honorable and remarkable men I’ve had the privilege of knowing . . . his reach stretches far beyond the sport of basketball.”

Duke University Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that Smith receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom speaks loudly about Smith as a coach and the game of basketball.  “He used the platform he attained as a coach to have an influence on other areas of our society.  That’s what we should all do,” said Krzyzewski.

There has also been praise for Coach Smith from some of North Carolina’s political leadership in Congress.  “As one of the greatest coaches of the 20th century, Dean Smith revolutionized the game of basketball and brought enormous pride to North Carolina during his 36 years leading the Tar Heels,” said U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. “But while he brought us glorious moments on the court, Dean Smith will forever be known for the sense of equality and justice that he instilled in his players and fought so hard to advance in basketball, in collegiate athletics and in the country as a whole.”  Said Representative David Price: “Dean Smith is known to all North Carolinians for his tremendous success as the coach of the Carolina men’s basketball team, but the Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes that he has been far more than a coach to his players, his community, and his country.  Throughout his life, Coach Smith has shown courage and determination on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from working to end segregation in college athletics early in his career, to advocating for inclusion in church and community, to supporting equal rights for gay Americans.”

President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton, along with first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy by laying a wreath near his grave site in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, November 20th.  In the evening on Wednesday, the President and First Lady will host a White House dinner honoring this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. These annual awards were initiated by President Kennedy in 1963.

Coach Smith will not be able to attend the presentation ceremony at the White House.  He is struggling with a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory.  He will be represented by his wife Dr. Linnea Smith, his children, long-time coaching assistant Bill Guthridge, and current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams.

“We know he would be humbled to be in the company of President Clinton, United States senators, scientists, entertainers, the great Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and the other distinguished Americans who are receiving the award,” Smith’s family said. “We also know he would take this as an opportunity to recognize all the young men who played for him and the assistant coaches who worked with him as well as the University. Again, this medal is a tremendous honor.”

The award ceremony is the kind of event that photographer Hugh Morton would have attended and I choose to believe on November 20th, he will be looking down and smiling.